All posts by DFillmore

Research Update

Well, I’ve spent quite a few hours researching at my college archives and at the local library going cross-eyed over micro-fiche. There are so many things I want to show and share on my website, but I need to decide what is most important to share, and what I should leave for future historians. So much of my local history is digitized, but getting permission to use actual things, instead of just linking to them as an archive, has been a challenge. I’m not sure how much money I should use on buying rights to use digitized historical works, either.

I’ve got about 10 pages of links now that I would like to use or look at for further thought. I know I will have lots of photos, lots of newspaper articles, some student yearbooks . . .  And I would still like to figure out some more personal “human” stuff to share with website visitors than just the college and the war. I want to somehow create an atmosphere.

Maybe price lists, grocery information, the status of electricity, fashions – at least a little of this - to give a better picture of what was happening during this era. This will be a lot of work, but I think it would interest the public more. I may end up having many “Dig Deeper Here” links for people who want more than surface information on the topic they are studying. I’m considering a photo gallery, maybe a map incorporated into an old photo of Superior, a few documents and more. Lots to think about.

Plugging Away

Oh, the many questions I have been asking myself: Why are archivists so busy? Why does it take so much time to get what I’m looking for? Why am I doing my thesis at the same time as this class? Why am I not an archivist? Why can’t I do historical research full time, just because? (Yep, I may be crazy, but this research is really fun.)

In lieu of actually answering any of these questions, I am plugging away at my research and doing my best to get to the point of knowing what materials I can use or not. I now know some of the documents and photos I would like to use from a couple of archives, but getting a hold of the person in charge and figuring out if I can actually use the stuff is my next course of action. They told me to look stuff up and ask later about uses and options and copyrights. I’d rather it was the other way round, but since they weren’t entirely sure I would find what I wanted, I guess I can understand.

I want to work through this so I can start in on my website. I know that creating the site to be how I intend will take some time (my lack of knowledge in website design will really shine), so I better start soon. So much to do! This is going to be exciting!

Thoughts on my Website

As far as plans for my website, I feel that it will be more of a digital narrative historical journey than a digital archive. I don’t feel I will have the time to collect enough data and documents to make a comprehensive archive. That being said, I want to show many sides of the community and have a good deal of stuff for people to look through.

I hope to use a timeline as part of my site, and have been considering the use of a map to add more information in a way that might attract people better than lots of pages of stuff. I would like to make an introduction page to my site, and then have a historical but pleasant theme throughout. This site should be searchable and somewhat self-explanatory (intuitive). Rather than having links 17 deep, I’d like to have a number of links on a page, but have summaries and stories and photos to make it more appealing than something strictly archival.

As far as the over site, it would be nice to have a page that links to each of ours and in some way explains just a bit about each school – enough to explain what you’d find after clicking on the link. That way the sites will be connected and the whole topic will be covered as far as what this class did. I don’t know if we want to do bios or not.

Going forward, will these sites be editable and changeable beyond the end of the semester? If we find something else will we be able to add it in?

 

 

The sources I plan to include thus far are:

Local News-

Ashland, Superior, Duluth

Stories on the school, the war, the shipyards, interesting local happenings,  war money-related articles, propaganda

 

University-

Memos/ bulletins

Gitche Gumee Student News

Photos of the campus, the fire in Old Main, graduates

Topics on the war effort

 

Local-

List of local men enlisted

List of local men who were KIA or MIA

Photos of the area, shipyards, war-related

 

St. Paul News-

Influenza news

Reports of influenza cases

More Website Critiques

Here are some thoughts on a couple more of the digital history websites. There are so many neat features on each of these sites. I’ve been trying to take notes and do some doodling of ideas for the layout of my site. The options are endless.

A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/exhibits/ahd/slaverydebate.html

• I like that this site has comprehensive short summaries of the images and materials it displays. Although the seeming millioins of short narratives can get confusing to some (Where was the one about such and such? Oh, yeah, it was 16 pages back) the small bits of information are more palatable to the public than unending long narratives would be.
• There are many “chapters” of information set up so a person can focus on an area of interest.
• Overall, it uses calm colors so the focus is on the subject matter instead of the layout of the site.

Biblion: World’s Fair
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/exhibits/ahd/slaverydebate.html

• This site includes lots of media. I found the essay links quite interesting.
• I enjoyed seeing the front page with an interesting outline of each section. Very nice. It explained a lot about what a person was going to read about and interact with after clicking on that link.
• It looked a little old-style: big, clunky, blocky letters and sections with drab primary colors.
• I thought all the clippings and letters were great. A person could get totally involved in a story and dig deep into the issue of interest to them.

UW-Superior Practice (Rough) Timeline

Wow, this timeline was interesting to work on and challenging, to say the least. I’m still having trouble getting images to publish correctly, so I will need work on this idea more – I would like to use the timeline feature on my website. It is more interactive than just giving summaries and histories. But, I can see I will need to learn more about this one. What are people doing to get media input into the timeline? My attempts keep having strange errors and not showing up.

Website Preparation Questions

My research has been getting more exciting as I dig a little deeper into what is available. There are so many avenues and angles I can work on learning about. I’m having a little trouble setting up times to meet with archivists because of their unavailability, but there is a lot I have done online as well. I plan to go and look through some microfiche local newspapers this week, along with doing more online research. So much to do! But it’s so fascinating.

I’ve been thinking about the many ways I could set up my website, and a few questions come to mind. We have the site set up that will house the Century America digital project, but will that just be the introduction page? Will we each create our website in our own way, or will we have a common theme throughout? Is there anything that is absolutely required to be on our individual sites? I assumed I should introduce my site and its navigation, but will the whole project be introduced by the initial website? I’m curious if people have comments on these questions and other questions to share? I see that we are supposed to starting drafting our websites soon, but I’d like to have a general picture in my mind as I think it all through. I know we have a lot of freedom, but I would like to understand the parameters of that freedom so I can wrap my mind around these ideas. It’s great to have so many options!

Three Digital History Website Surveys

I looked through many links and pages of three websites and tried to decide what I liked and what I’d like to avoid with my own website. This was a fun activity, beside that it will be helpful for future reference. Below are the sites I studied:

Virtual Paul’s Cross Project Website

http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/

  • I found the site very straight forward and easy to navigate. There were many layers to it, but I knew what was coming based on the title option for what I wanted to click. There is a lot of writing throughout, but there are also many videos, a virtual tour and other artifacts that make the experience as real as the participants in the project could get.
  •  I like that the steps taken in the process are documented well, although my own site will probably not be the type that needs so much documentation of what I personally did.
  • The “scroll to top” feature is nice on the extremely long pages.
  • The bold of various specific phrases was somewhat irritating, but I’m sure it would help someone who is interested in a specific topic to more readily find the areas they want to note.
  • Overall, the site was interesting and nice to look at. The images of the cathedral area began to be repetitive as I navigated through the site, but with so focused a goal for the site, there is not much else they could have chosen for images.

The Valley of the Shadow Website

http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/

  • The copyright I found was for 2007, but this looks like an older set-up than that. The idea of the valley doesn’t seem to fit with the labyrinth pattern used throughout.
  • I think it’s really cool that they have it set up so a person can do their own research. The basic data has been collected for a specific location and goal, so it’s all contained in one location for the novice researcher.
  • Overall, the pages are very stark – not much art there until you get in deeper. The levels got a little confusing because the titles were quite similar between the differing time periods chosen for the site.
  • In some cases, they offer no interesting facts or stories. It’s just a place to search the census or other records. If I was trying to just find a few facts, it would be a challenge without doing my own research.
  • In the end, I think with a few more human interest stories and a better set up, this would be a great public digital history site.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Website

http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces

  • Having been to Ghana, West Africa, I found this site very interesting after touring the slave dungeons at a couple of castles along the coast. The whole idea is very depressing, but it is also good to see that the slave trade is being dealt with by giving facts and allowing searches of names and places for those involved in the trafficking.
  • The site seems well put together and easy to navigate. The colors and menus are set up nicely. The paths seem logical to get where I want to go within the site.
  • I looked at the timelines and maps, along with the images, and it was very easy to follow. The timeline was a little jumpy, but the idea and the information I could get from it were helpful. The photos were well-recorded and were easy to see (they would also enlarge for better viewing).
  • Overall, this was my favorite site. The look and set-up seemed well-planned and easy to look at and follow. The layout was great and the information was good. The history and resources were just a click away as well.

Survey of WWI Historical Research Options

Over the past several weeks, I have been able to ask lots of questions and find many answers for my overall survey. I feel like there will be helpful information in many places for my research for this class. Between my university library archives, the public library local history section and archives, the local historical societies and the Area Research Centers, I think I’m well on my way to having enough stuff to work with. I’ve been offered some help with this course from many local residents as well – many nearby small towns have published centennial history books, and many of my friends have numerous books and histories from the area. Newspapers, student newspapers and other university documents, diaries, letters, and lists of locals who served, are all available to me. I was even told some hearsay about a man who was tarred and feathered, (and someone also said he was hung) during some anti-German issues just a few miles from here during WWI; there seems to be no end to resources I can use. I will be interested in figuring out what exactly we should look at using for sources in our work. I also got to thinking about what the Minnesota schools might have to offer for research opportunities as the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior put in a lot of work toward the war effort. It seems the more questions I ask, the more options I have, which is stressful and wonderful at the same time. There is so much to contemplate and there are so many decisions to make!